Commonwealth bursary for Matie student

​Passing his undergraduate and honours degrees with flying colours, Matie student Riaan Visagie is on his way to London to add another …

Passing his undergraduate and honours degrees with flying colours, Matie student Riaan Visagie is on his way to London to add another qualification to his list of achievements.

As recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship, Riaan has been accepted to King’s College in London, where he will enrol for a Master’s degree in Intelligence and International Security. He will study for a year at this elite institution, part of the golden triangle of universities in the cities of Cambridge, London and Oxford.

Riaan, who completed his BA International Studies (2013) and BA Honours International Studies (2014) cum laude, is the only Stellenbosch University (SU) student to receive the scholarship this year. Awarded to “high academic quality” scholars of developing Commonwealth countries the scholarship offers support for full-time Master’s and PhD studies at an UK institution. SU was invited to nominate eight students in a process facilitated by the Postgraduate and International Student Funding Office.

“There is no way that my mother or I could afford the costs to study at an overseas university,” says Riaan who is also currently completing a Master’s degree in Political Science at SU. “This bursary provides a great opportunity to specialise in my study field and at the same time gives my mother’s purse a break after almost five years of study fees.”

With two degrees under his belt and two to go, Riaan says determination and a passion for his studies brought him to where he is today.

“Up until I came to university, I had never performed at any level, not in sports, culture or academia. I remember the first few months of being a first-year. I was convinced that I had made a big mistake to pursue a tertiary education. As a constant underperformer, I never expected that I would achieve anything remarkable at university.

“Passionate about my studies I was well motivated to put in a little extra with every assignment, test or exam and as I continue with it my marks improved accordingly. My first subject distinction was a watershed moment, and when I first tasted success I was determined to pursue it all costs in everything I do at the university.”

Swapping the Cape Town winter for an English autumn, Riaan begins his studies at King’s College in September this year.

“I am looking forward to the English winter, long cold nights and snow. I know I will enjoy the theatres and I will have a busy time in a city full of history and culture. I hope to slip out of the city during short holidays and explore the rest of the country.”